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Category Archives: Ideas

random ideas that pop in my head…

Perils of Big Data or Beyond Big Brother?

Technology is great!

I’m in the technology field and sometime I feel so empowered!  You can do anything with technology if you work at it, look at all the great smart phone apps that are in existence!  Who doesn’t love reading email or playing Candy Crush any place and at anytime?

But there is a dark, scary underbelly of technology and in particular “Big Data” that you should also be aware of.  And that is, you are being watched just like Big Brother, but much, much more scary!  You see with the much feared concept of “Big Brother is always watching” in the “1984” book by George Orwell, the invasion of privacy required someone on the other end to be watching.  Today is much worse because today, it’s possible to record every thing you do, say and where you go.  You have no privacy whatsoever and it’s stored!

In old days, email trails were something to worry about, then message system like chat, IM and the like.  These days, everything and everywhere you go you are being recorded and potentially analyzed.

No, it’s not a physical person analyzing your data.  Instead there exists sophisticated software and beastly computers that are doing the analysis (this folks is the power of “Big Data”).  Big Brother could and should be considered the algorithms that manipulate the huge databases of information (this is the “Big Data” part) that is being accumulated on you.

HAL
Hall From 2001

For example, Let’s look the iPhone 6, not only is it possible to determine where you have been historically, but it’s also possible to detect the rate speed you were traveling between endpoints.  So let’s say that the government wanted to tap into that rich data and potentially give you a speeding ticket… if they deemed it to be, they could.  Oh it won’t happen because of voters, but it’s entirely within the realm of possibilities.

Now let’s look at the Apple iWatch…  It’s even scarier to an extent.  It has the ability to monitor your body.  While there are obvious positives in doing so, there is also the opportunity for your system to be monitored for odd behavior, maybe elevated heart rate or maybe your alcohol content (via your sweat).  Let’s say that you are at some location like school and your heart rate gets evaluated for any reason, maybe you are running late to some appointment and you are getting nervous.  You could potentially be flagged in some “Big Data” system as a potential sex predator.  Oh you wouldn’t be arrested, but you would now be in the “likely suspect” database or be continuously monitored thereafter.  I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s still worth knowing about, and knowing that it is possible!

Let’s say you are one of the “Bad Guys” in the world.  Well “Bad Guy” it’s going to get a lot more difficult for you in the future!  As computer, software, cameras, robotics and other specialized hardware become more stronger, cheaper and basically more optimal, you “Bad Guys” will find it much harder to do your “Bad things”.  The Cameras today capture so much more than they use to, and at high-resolution!  Soon, I wouldn’t be surprised if almost anyplace you go has a video system and cities have drones flying overhead recording stuff, not to mention all of the roads with such equipment to capture you car and license plate.  So if you traveling into a new city, or town, you could instantly be flag and tracked.  Again, this isn’t necessarily bad, but good to know..

A side thought is that as the cameras that are part of complex video systems, record you on your smart phones logging into various systems, well you are pretty much flat-out telling the camera owners your password.  Or at least giving the a huge leg up if they decide to try to hack into your programs by guessing your passwords.

There will be a lot of good from technology too, but I just want to mention what is possible as technology continues to advance.  I’m just scratching the surface.  For instance, I could have added a third element which would be predictive analysis, that based on your prior history (see my out of area car example above), Big Brother could predict where you should be at any given time.  Don’t believe me?  Has your credit card company ever called you asking if such and such purchase was made by you in a give location?  This is “Big Brother”-like algorithm detecting that you are out of state making a purchase when you shouldn’t be.  So basically both company and government Big Bothers are here and watching, we just don’t know how “Big” the Big brother are yet, but I will say that the code is from the most part pretty much unlimited in reach…

I’m writing this because article because some people might not realize the reach of the technology and to mention that fact that we are beyond the “Big Brother” version of yesteryear when George Orwell wrote his book.  While it’s not exactly the same, in many ways it is more invasive, in a sneaky hidden way.

Bests,

Don

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